Write an essay in response to one question from each block (that’s a total of two). Your total essay should be around 4-6 pages (if you go over, then that’s no problem). Your paper should be in typical academic format (12 pt. font, Times New Roman, etc.). Most prompts require you to restate someone’s argument and argue for your own position on some issue. MAKE SURE TO ARGUE FOR YOUR POSITION!!! If you only summarize a work or describe someone’s views, this will not count as a sufficient answer to the prompt. You must give arguments and defend your position with your own. I neither expect nor require full-proof, knock-down arguments here, but I do expect and require for you to give the best argument you can. If you do not argue (at all), your grade will suffer greatly.
1. Augustine has been described as a Platonist. Unsurprisingly, a Platonist is a person that accepts many of Plato’s key philosophical positions, claims, and/or arguments. What do you think about this description: is it (more or less) correct or incorrect? In arguing for your answer here, make sure to show what important Platonic doctrines Augustine does or does not accept as well as ways that he may “tweak” or “modify “those doctrines. This is NOT a compare/contrast essay. Rather, pick important, specific Platonic claims/theories that we have discussed and show how they do or do not factor into important Augustinian claims/theories.
2. In Book III, Augustine discusses a few objections to his original use of free choice of the will as a defense against the problem of evil. That is, Augustine, earlier in the text, claims that evil isn’t a problem for God due to us having free will. But, Evodius raises a few points in Book III that, if sound call that (earlier) response/defense into question. So, here’s the series of questions: (1) what are these possible objections, (2) how do they call the earlier claims into question, (3) how does Augustine respond to the stuff in (1), and (4) critically assess whether Augustine’s claims in (3) work. As always, argue for your key claims.
3. The problem of evil is a big issue in philosophy. First, give this problem. What exactly is the problem of evil? Make sure that you’re precise about what the problem of evil is and how exactly it is a problem. Then, give Augustine’s response to the problem. How does he argue for a solution here? Again, make sure that you don’t merely summarize his text but, instead, that you give his arguments. Finally, and unsurprisingly by now, critically assess his solution. Does it solve the problem? Does it make the problem less severe? Or does it fail to do anything about the problem at all? Make sure that you argue here. Your grade is not dependent (at all) upon what your stance on this matter is, but it is dependent upon how you argue for your stance.
4. Descartes titles his work Meditations on First Philosophy. In what sense of the word “meditation” is the text a meditation (if at all)? In answering this, a make sure that you are clear and explicit about what exactly a “meditation” is? (Analyze the concept yourself: don’t merely quote a dictionary and think that suffices.) Given, this explain how Descartes’ work does or does not count as one. This work is also supposed to be about “first philosophy.” What could this mean? What is “first” about it and why does Descartes think that his method and his aims lie at the beginning of philosophy and philosophical study? Make sure that you argue for your answers to these questions.
5. Descartes gives two famous arguments for the existence of God in the Meditations, one in Meditation Three and one in Meditation Five. Reconstruct in your own words these arguments. Then show the role that God’s nature and existence plays in Descartes‟ overall goal in the Meditations of finding certain knowledge. Are his arguments sufficient to provide rational evidence that God exists? And does the existence of God do the work Descartes needs of it? As always, I’m looking for arguments here—mere assertion of your view will not work.
6. In Meditation Four, Descartes concerns himself with truth and falsity. There is one particular question that drives the main line of his argument in this chapter. He asks how error is possible. First, what is the problem involving error in the fourth Meditation? (That is, why would the question of the possibility of error even arise in the first place?) Second, how does Descartes argue for a solution to this problem? Be sure to discuss two parts here: what error is and how error is possible. And, what should come as no shock whatsoever, critically assess his solution here. As always, I’m looking to see that you understand his arguments and can give your own: I’m not looking for description, summary, or mere assertion on your part.
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